Cover Letters

Your CV and covering letter is your chance to show an employer the best of what you’ve got. Its about selling your skills and experience, and showing them you’re the right person for the job.

Maximise your skills and to learn how to produce a professional cover letter, you also have access to example downloads to get you started.

Unless there is an online application process, every CV and application form that you send should be accompanied by a well written cover letter. Cover letters are very important. Many employers ask for them and even if they don’t you should send one. These letters are just as important as your CV. Your cover letter will be the first document your potential future employer reads.

For maximum impact, you should aim for your cover letter to convince the employer that you definitely could be the right person for the role you are applying for. Use it to sell yourself and to highlight particular skills and attributes that you would bring to the job and that would enhance the team or business. This, as much as your CV or application, is a great chance to convince your potential future employer that they need to interview you.

Before you write your letter, do a bit of research. Find out about the company you are applying to – this will usually be available on their website. If you know anyone in a similar field, talk to them and get some inside information about the industry sector, what type of company it is, and use it to your advantage.

If possible always write to a named person. If you need to, phone the company and find out who to address it to (especially if it’s a speculative letter). If the advert says write to Sam Bloggs, you will need to decide an appropriate manner of address. E.g. ‘Dear Sam’ if you think an informal approach is suitable, or ‘Dear Ms/Mr ’ if you think the formal approach would be preferable and if you don’t know whether they are male or female. Begin the letter with a suitable attention grabbing opening that shows motivation.

Keep to a single side of paper- three paragraphs should be enough. Be direct – tell them why you are writing and what you can bring to the job. This is your first chance to sell yourself as the right person for the job. Highlight the best parts of your CV to tell them a bit about your background, emphasise relevant skills, qualifications /certificates. Stress your enthusiasm, willingness to learn, ability to work as part of a team, etc. Show that you are interested in them. Explain what it is about the job or company that interests you.

The final paragraph should highlight your availability for attending an interview. If you addressed the letter ‘Dear Sam’ then use ‘Yours sincerely’ at the end – If you didn’t have a named person then end it with ‘Yours faithfully’.

A speculative letter is one that you might send to a company that hasn’t advertised a job and you are contacting them on the off-chance that they might be interested in you and could have a vacancy coming up. If you are sending a speculative letter, your research on the company should have clearly identified a particular role that you have the skills to carry out and you need to identify the most relevant person to send your letter to. There is absolutely no point just sending a general letter asking if they have any vacancies and a CV – you’ll get a guaranteed no response. You should make it clear in the letter what you want to achieve and whether you would be happy to take a temporary post if they don’t have a permanent one at the moment.

If seeking a shore-based role you might want to offer to carry out a period of unpaid work experience, or to suggest that you would be willing to undertake an internship at a lesser salary than the role would usually attract, in order for the company to see whether it does have a place for you. Be confident in your letter by telling them you will you will get back in touch with them to discuss further, preferably stating a date – and then make sure you stick to it and follow it up.

Cover letter top tip: BE SPECIFIC – never send a general cover letter. It looks really lazy and as if you don’t actually know anything about the company or the job you are applying for.

1. Basic Errors

It is amazing how many Cover Letters and CVs contain mistakes, such as an old mobile number, an incorrectly typed email address, or the wrong official name for a company that you’ve worked for. Even if your spelling and grammar (covered below) are not perfect, there really is no excuse for getting fundamental information wrong – especially if it’s your own. If a potential employer likes the look of your CV, and tries to ring your mobile number, only to find it unobtainable, what do you think will happen next? Precisely nothing … except that your CV will be put in file 13 THE BIN. The company that you used to work for: was it ONETEL, OneTel, 1tel? There’s no excuse. Check the details, and when you’ve checked them, check them again!

2. Spelling and Grammar Errors

Your spelling and grammar may not be the best in the world so ask someone else to read your CV, and ask them to comment on spelling and grammar. If you are using MS word on your PC, make sure you’ve got UK spell checking turned on. Check every word that is highlighted and use a dictionary to verify the correct spelling if need be. Treat the grammar checkers with some care; and if grammar is highlighted, try and understand why. If you can’t be bothered to get the first steps right, any reader will think that your attitude is slapdash and you would have the same attitude to work.

3. Too Long and Boring

Do not try to fill two pages for the sake of it. If you haven’t got much to say, then filling out your Cover Letter or CV with unnecessary information is a waste of time. Therefore, make your Cover Letter relevant, interesting and to the point; your aim is to get the reader to want to review your CV. If that means making it short, then Make It Short! Going into minute detail about every one of your skills, experiences and duties, or even every one of your achievements, going back to when you were born is not necessary and does not need to be included in your cover letter.

4. Repetition

If you have highlighted your skills, achievements or qualifications in your Cover Letter make sure it is backed up by/matches what you have in your CV. However, although repetition to highlight key points is important, keep it to the point, interesting and snappy.

5. Vague and Clichéd

Readers of a cover letter or CV will see through any attempts to make vague statements that might apply to anyone, e.g. “seeking a challenging position in a professional environment”. Isn’t everyone? At the very least, back up such statements with examples. Cover Letter getting started

Having trouble starting your cover letter? Sometimes getting started can be the hardest part and it does not have to be. A cover letter can be made up of three areas; the introduction, the detail and a Conclusion.

The Introduction

A simple way to begin is to explain why you’re sending your CV to the recipient. For instance, if you’re providing someone with a CV in response to a job advertisement, your opening statements could be: Dear Mr/Ms Job Poster, I noticed with interest your job advertisement for a 2nd Engineer Officer in the “XYZ Times”. Therefore, I am submitting my CV (see attached) for your consideration. Your opening lines do not have to be long or flowery; keeping the message simple will encourage your recipient to continue reading.

The Detail

Once you’ve got past your introductory paragraph, you’re ready to tackle the ‘meat’ of your cover letter. It is during this part of your mission that you’ll be ‘selling’ yourself. This is where you put forward your reasoning as to why you are the best suited person for the role! Take some time and compose approximately 1-3 paragraphs that highlight the reasons you’re sending your CV to the recipient. If you’re responding to a job opportunity, for example, you may want to echo some of the phrases as stated in the job advertisement; hence, if the posting asks for “careers promoter with sales and customer service experience” the opening line could be: “Careers marketing assistant with over 4 year sales and customer service experience in the shipping industry.” Even though you have probably already indicated that you are a qualified applicant in your CV, it’s expected that you highlight important specifics in the cover letter.


When ending your cover letter, make sure you include your contact information. That way, your recipient can reach you if need be. Also, be polite; never forget to say “thank you” in some way. Not only is it considered proper etiquette to do so, it speaks volumes about you as a person.


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